SAVING SUDDEN CARDIAC ARREST VICTIMS IN THE WORKPLACE
OSHA 3185-09n 2003 Automated External Defibrillators
Improving survival from sudden cardiac arrest.
There are 220,000 victims of sudden cardiac arrest per year in the United States, about 10,000 sudden
cardiac arrests occur at work.
Waiting for the arrival of emergency medical system personnel results in only 5-7 % survival.
Studies with immediate defibrillation have shown up to 60 % survival one year after sudden cardiac
Automated External Defibrillators
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a medical device designed to analyze the heart rhythm and
deliver an electric shock to the victims of ventricular fibrillation to restore the heart rhythm to normal.
Ventricular fibrillation is the uncoordinated heart rhythm most often responsible for sudden cardiac
Sudden cardiac arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when ventricular fibrillation takes place or when the heart stops beating
altogether. Without medical attention, the victim collapses, loses consciousness, becomes unresponsive
and dies. Many victims have no prior history of heart disease and are stricken without warning.
Causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Asphyxiation (loss of consciousness and death caused by inadequate oxygen in the work
environment, such as confined space.)
Reasons for AEDs in the Workplace
Workers may suffer sudden cardiac arrest while on the job
Onsite AEDs save precious treatment time, and can improve survival odds because they can be
used before emergency medical services personnel arrive.
A heart rhythm in ventricular fibrillation may only be restored to normal by an electric shock.
The AED is compact, lightweight, portable, battery operated, safe and easy to use.
Placement of AEDs
AEDs should be conveniently installed to ensure response within 3-5 minutes.
Areas where many people work together
Close to a confined space
Areas where electric-powered devices are used
Health Units where workers may seek treatment for heart attack symptoms
Cafeterias and fitness centers
Remote sites such as construction sites, marine vessels and transmission lines
AED Program Costs
AEDS cost $1200-3000 per device
Training, annual retraining and administrative costs are additional
Your employees can be easily trained to:
Recognize sudden cardiac arrest and notify EMS personnel
Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Provide early defibrillation with an AED, and
Care for a victim until EMS personnel arrive
For more information, visit the OSHA website at www.osha.gov or the websites of the following
American Heart Association
American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
American red Cross
Federal Occupational health
National Center for early Defibrillation
National Safety Council
Success Stories from the American Heart Association:
A 41 year-old worker at a manufacturer of heating and air- conditioning systems suffered a sudden
cardiac arrest at work. After three shocks and CPR he was revived within 4 minutes. Fortunately, his
company had AEDs and trained responders. By the time EMS personnel arrived, he had been
resuscitated and was moved to a hospital. The employee survived.
A 62 year-old employee of a coatings, glass and chemical manufacturer suffered a sudden cardiac arrest
after walking up to her office. Employees in the next office heard her fall and notified the plant
emergency response team. She was defibrillated and saved in less than 2 minutes. EMS personnel then
arrived to transport her to the hospital. She sent a note to the company after her discharge from the
hospital saying she had “no doubt that headquarters spent money wisely.”
An employee at an automobile manufacturer was working on the production line when he suddenly
collapsed, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing. Plant security responded, and after two shocks
with an AED, the employee’s heart responded and his pulse returned. He is alive today thanks to the fast
actions of his coworkers and the company’s emergency response plan, which included AED installation
From the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:
While standing on a fire escape during a building renovation, a 30 year old construction worker was
holding a metal pipe with both hands. The pipe contacted a high voltage line, and the worker instantly
collapsed. About 4 minutes later, a rescue squad arrived and began CPR. Within 6 minutes the squad
had defibrillated the worker. His heartbeat returned to normal and he was transported to a hospital.
The worker regained consciousness and was discharged from the hospital within 2 weeks.
AEDs Save Lives
These devices have a proven track record of saving lives in public places as well as in the workplace.
They can so the same for you and your employees. Please consider installing AEDs in your workplace.
**This is an informational reprint from OSHA that provides a general overview of AEDs.